Yesterday, the Boston Bruins were at the White House for a meet ‘n’ greet with U.S. President Barack Obama. The photo op, which includes a tour of the White House, is a tradition in American sports/politics for all championship teams in major sports like football, baseball, basketball and hockey.
The Bruins earned the invite after winning the Stanley Cup last June in a hard-fought seven game series against the Vancouver Canucks. For some players, I imagine it’s a cherished event. Others probably couldn’t give a rat’s ass about standing on a podium with the Prez. But teamwise, it’s probably generally regarded as an honour. In the NHL’s case, it’s particularly important because the league doesn’t enjoy a high profile in the U.S. and any bit of publicity it can get is regarded as a plus.
Now retired Bruins Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy made a special trip to Washington to share the moment with their teammates, as did former Bruin/current Canadien defenceman Tomas Kaberle, who flew in from Montreal. But star Bruin goalie Tim Thomas (pictured above), who was instrumental in his team winning the cup, opted out of the visit. Not only was he a no-show, he issued a statement criticizing the American government for threatening “the rights, liberties and property of the people.”
Thomas’s actions have created a fair bit of controversy, with some people accusing him of being selfish, while others have criticized him for using the non-partisan event to advance his own libertarian political views. Here’s a link to the CBC report here.